Sunday, 25 March 2012

Shropshire - Mad March stroll

The clocks going forward didn't deter the prospect of a monthly bird race with Yvonne with an aim at cracking 80 species? An early, misty dawn drive to the Longmynd got some decent 'tricky' birds under the belt with Longnor Dipper en-route, double figures Red Grouse seen with a couple of close flyovers and the first two Stonechat of the year - both males.

Venus Pool added Green Woodpecker, Marsh Tit, Skylark, Common Snipe and another year tick - Grey Wagtail on the bridge at Cound Stank. With plenty of common species over these two sites, we left VP with 52 in the bag! Atcham produced the first two Sand Martins of the year, Goosander and the traditional bogey bird was laid to rest - a Jay!!

Shirlett kept the momentum going with a large flock of 40+ Lesser Redpoll, Goldcrest, Nuthatch and a surprise calling Tawny Owl! The Bridgnorth area added Little Owl, Peregrine and a long awaited Kestrel for a 68 lunchtime tally!

As ever though, with all the easier birds are in the bag, early afternoon turned into the usual struggle. The Allscot area did the business with Wigeon, Gadwall and an unexpected Redshank! Green Sandpiper was finally caught up with here too! The 80 mark was looking plain sailing with Red-legged Partridge and Corn Bunting nailed but nothing else. An apparent easy tick turned into a flyoff (Little Ringed Plover reported that morning) making the return visit to VP a pointless affair which just left the trip to the Meres our final option.

Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gull at Wood Lane plus Goldeneye at Colemere were to be the last new birds of the day! Not a single Common Gull to be seen anywhere and Whixall Moss was virtually birdless!

Oh well, 76 is still a decent tally for the time of year with three year ticks along the way and a few 'ideas' for an April attempt at the ton! We shall see.......

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Venus Pool - Portrait of a Curlew

A day's birding beckoned and I opted to stay local with Venus Pool my first port of call hoping for more passage. The only brief flurry of excitement was a small wader flying in at 11.00 and then skulking behind one of the new islands! It eventually revealed itself - a Ringed Plover

Not a lot else happened and I had to content myself with the activities of one of the local Curlews - flying in....

And landing not far away......

Interesting watching a Curlew drink - a little bit must go down the hatch but most of the water trickles back out!


Curlews can swim of course!

And they keep themselves impeccably clean .

A quick flap dry before doing a disappearing act.

Nothing else doing, it was time to head South - if all went to plan I would have Goshawk and Firecrest on my yearlist?

South Shropshire - Goshawk!

I didn't see one at all in 2011 and my first serious South Shropshire search for one turned up trumps! A juvenile (2cy)and given the size undoubtedly a female, being mobbed by crows and with a crop bulging as if he'd eaten a couple of them!

Crikey, how do you fly whilst seeing off a horde of marauding Corvids and carrying this payload of 'kill'?

And how do you mistake a Sparrowhawk for one of these??

Could have done better with the light tho..... and being a bit closer..... but you mustn't grumble about moments like this!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Priorslee Lake - Kittiwake

A bit of Gull passage going on with Andy finding 2 Little Gulls at Priorslee today. I was stuck at work and worse (for me) was to come with news of a Kittiwake! I blasted over to Teford after work and arrived just as Damon did - pointing the Kittiwake out on a far bank fishing jetty. Seconds later, at 5.35 it flew off after someone attempted to approach it and we soon realised why!
It was training a length of fishing line as it flew rapidly out of view but an unexpected local lifer for yours truly and Damo...... No pics possible

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Wood Lane - Water Rail

I'm recovering after a roller coaster week in London watching Gemma swim in the British Championships, where she finally achieved her dream with a qualifying time for London 2012 and a British Record in the process! I might just post a few images on my 'sports photography' blog, which has lain dormant for many years.....

Here's a hotlink to one of the newspaper websites with an image of her featuring a much better known British swimmer!

Meanwhile, it weas back to birding today, the only real highlight was the totally obliging Wood Lane Water Rail! It took a few hours to get the bird out in the open but eventually it emerged from the reed bed......

Before coming even closer and obliging at every angle!

Rear view

Side view

Struggling to focus now even with the converter off!

Ultra close up....

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Norfolk Timewarp.....

With nothing happening locally to trouble my lens, time to do a bit of catching up? I remembered that my final day in Norfolk (October 1st 2011) remained unsorted including this rather nasty piece of work!

Do NOT be fooled by those big eyes and cute whiskers!

You can see the action unfurl here PLUS a few waders, Beardies, Arctic Skua etc....

Why not browse that whole week - it will help dispel the late Winter blues :-)